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Greek unions call new general strike as austerity anger grows

by Julie Sherry

Unions in Greece have called a general strike for Wednesday 26 September.

This follows a huge trade union demonstration in Salonika, Greece’s second city, that brought tens of thousands onto the streets.

That protest was followed by a nationwide strike that involved schools, hospitals and local government workplaces.

Panos Garganas, editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper in Greece, says Greece’s union leadership is under enormous pressure to step up the action.

“First, there is the pressure from the Troika—the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission—that together agreed a bailout for Greece known as the ‘memorandum’.

“They want to impose more austerity. The Greek government is negotiating with them to further increase the retirement age, sack more people and make deeper pension cuts.

“This government was elected after promising they would make the memorandum less harsh. Now, people’s anger increases as the cuts get worse.

“Second, there is pressure from workers. People are not just angry—they’re on the move.

“The massive demonstration in Salonika was a general mobilisation of the trade unions, supported by the left, and aimed against the government’s cuts.”

Occupy

The strike on 26 September will see everyone out together—both public and private sector. In the private sector, one group who are up in arms are the bank workers at what used to be the main savings bank—the Hellenic Postbank (TT).

The Troika and government have agreed the bank can no longer be the main savings state bank and must be sold off. Striking workers have responded by occupying the bank’s headquarters.

The austerity package also includes plans to rearrange the working week in the private sector, so that bosses can decide the length of the working day and slash overtime.

Transport unions have also announced strike plans after the government vowed to ramp up bus and metro fares.

“The 26 September general strike will not be the end of the story—there is more action coming,” says Panos. “It will be another high point in our strike movement, bringing everyone out together.”

» Eurozone 'bazooka' won’t stop crisis from spreading


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International
Thu 13 Sep 2012, 16:51 BST
Issue No. 2320
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